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Rahm Emmanuel’s potential appointment sees pushback from progressive Dems. Photo: Kiefer Hickman
Rahm Emmanuel’s potential appointment sees pushback from progressive Dems. Photo: Kiefer Hickman

The case against Rahm Emanuel’s potential slot in the Biden administration

Progressives say the former Chicago Mayor’s potential appointment would be a disservice to Black Americans. 

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The last time Rahm Emanuel held public office, he interfered in the due process that led to the first Chicago cop in nearly 50 years to be convicted of murder.

President-elect Joe Biden is in the process of rolling out his nominations for his cabinet. Biden had originally considered Emanuel, President Obama’s former White House Chief of Staff,  for a “less visible” role of Secretary of the Department of Transportation or Trade Representative. 

No matter the role, his consideration has seen immediate backlash.  

For one, the potential move could push the Black voters that put him in office away from the message of a better future he preached throughout the campaign.

Black voters, by a percentage larger than any other voting bloc, helped put Biden in the White House, through close calls in Georgia, Pennsylvania as well as the South Carolina primary.

“This makes any thought of Rahm Emanuel in the Biden administration both incomprehensible and manifestly unacceptable,” wrote Renée Graham for the Boston Globe.

The former Chicago mayor stalled the release of video depicting the murder of a Black teenager, Laquan McDonald, effectively covering up the murder by a white police officer. To place him within an administration which has promised — by both Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and Biden — to combat systemic racism in the U.S. could be seen as a termination of said promise.

It took a judge’s ruling for Emanuel to release the video evidence to the public, over a year after McDonald was shot by officer Jason Van Dyke 16 times, even after the 17-year-old was already on the ground.

The crucial evidence — a year late — unraveled “Chicago’s blue code of silence,” revealing that the official story by city authorities was based on lies, as it was clear to the public that Van Dyke’s actions could not be justified. 

Since the news broke that Biden may be considering the same man who aided the coverup to fill a position within his cabinet, progressive leaders have spoken-out against the possibility. 

“What is so hard to understand about this?” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter. “Rahm Emanuel helped cover up the murder of Laquan McDonald. Covering up a murder is disqualifying for public leadership. This is not about the “visibility” of a post. It is shameful and concerning that he is even being considered.”

Ocasio-Cortez was among the most prominent voices speaking out against the potential appointment, but she was also joined by incoming freshman Jamaal Bowman, who put it simply, writing, “Rahm Emanuel should not be considered for any position within the Biden administration.”

The plea certain congressional members are making to Biden is not complicated. They want him to uphold his part of the deal, because even before McDonald’s murder, Emanuel’s leadership did little-to-nothing for his Black constituents.

Faced with $1 billion in municipal debt, he closed 50 schools, most of which were located in predominantly Black neighborhoods. In 2013, it was the largest mass-school closure in the country’s modern history. 

As Biden’s cabinet appointees slowly roll in, it’s become clear his decisions won’t satisfy the masses. Still, to potentially alienate the voting blog that bolstered his win is a shaky start considering his campaign trail promises.

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